Berkeley’s ‘master argument’ for idealism has been the subject of extensive criticism. Two of his strongest critics, A.N. Prior and J.L. Mackie, argue that due to various logical confusions on the part of Berkeley, the master argument fails to establish his idealist conclusion. Prior (1976) argues that Berkeley’s argument ‘proves too little’ in its conclusion, while Mackie (1964) contends that Berkeley confuses two different kinds of self-refutation in his argument. In this paper, I put forward a defence of the master argument based on intuitionistic logic. I argue that, analysed along these lines, Prior’s and Mackie’s criticisms fail to undermine Berkeley’s argument.
Aesthetic attitude theories suggest we must attend disinterestedly to the properties of objects to experience aesthetic delight in them: we view them without regard to their use for us. Bence Nanay’s recent revival of the concept explains it through the distribution of our attention over the many properties of individual objects. While agreeing with Nanay’s approach, I argue such perception presupposes certain intentionality towards the object in the Fregean-Husserlian sense. Whether we see the same object as informative or aesthetically gratifying depends on whether we understand it as, say, a map or as a work of design or art. Furthermore, intending an object as aesthetic means we treat it as internally coherent: its properties are defined in relation to one another, rather than the purposes of a subject. This, I conclude, even affects the presentation of historical or moral values that obviously originate outside the object of aesthetic appreciation.
This edition of the newsletter continues a focus on pedagogy and outreach—of teaching Native American and Indigenous philosophy and of creating supports for Native American and other underrepresented students so that more see college and further study of philosophy as live options for themselves.
The interlude in the Theaetetus was a seminal text for Plotinus, who endorsed both Socrates’ conception of the ideal of god-likeness (ὁμοίωσις θεῷ) and his claim that evil would “inevitably haunt mortal nature.” (176a7-8) However, in so far as the interlude raised more questions than could be addressed in what would become ten Stephanus pages, Plotinus reinterpreted the Socratic claims and integrated them in the framework of his emanative ontology. The god to whom we are to make ourselves “like” became the hypostasis Intellect and the archetypes of virtue therein; virtue became the state of embodied human souls who activate the traces of the Forms within themselves; and contemplation became the focus of the best life for a human being to lead. As for the claim that evil would forever stalk human nature, which Socrates had left vague and unsupported, it led Plotinus to formulate a highly complex theory of matter as metaphysical evil and indirect source of moral evil. Plotinus’ conception of both virtue and vice, it will be argued, is a form of moral realism avant la lettre.
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business.
Despite an enormous philosophical literature on models in science, surprisingly little has been written about data models and how they are constructed. In this paper, I examine the case of how paleodiversity data models are constructed from the fossil data. In particular, I show how paleontologists are using various model-based techniques to correct the data. Drawing on this research, I argue for the following related theses: First, the 'purity' of a data model is not a measure of its epistemic reliability. Instead it is the fidelity of the data that matters. Second, the fidelity of a data model in capturing the signal of interest is a matter of degree. Third, the fidelity of a data model can be improved 'vicariously', such as through the use of post hoc model-based correction techniques. And, fourth, data models, like theoretical models, should be assessed as adequate (or inadequate) for particular purposes.
Olympiodorus of Alexandria, presumably a late pupil of Ammonius Hermeiou,
the commentator on Aristotle and teacher of Simplicius and Philoponus,
was one of the last pagans to teach philosophy at the school of
Alexandria in the 6th century. In his lectures, he
interpreted classical philosophical texts, mainly by Plato and
Aristotle; we still possess three of his commentaries on Plato and two
on Aristotle. At times, these seem to be carefully crafted pieces of
pedagogy, but at other times they read more like transcripts drawn up
by one of the students. Although Olympiodorus comes across as a
learned man and guardian of traditional paideia, both
literary and philosophical, his œuvre compares unfavorably, from
a philosophical standpoint, with commentaries written by either
Ammonius or Olympiodorus’ contemporaries such as Simplicius and John
[It] was hard to know what lessons to draw. The democracies had shown their resilience in the long run. How they had done it, and what it meant for the future, was much less clear. The knowledge of their hidden strengths the democracies had been given did not translate into greater self-knowledge or self-control. …
All the legal maneuvers, the decades of recriminations, came down in the end to two ambiguous syllables. No one knew why old man Memeson had named his two kids “Laurel” and “Yanny,” or why his late wife had gone along with it. …
This chapter defends a (minimal) realist conception of progress in scientific understanding in the face of the ubiquitous plurality of perspectives in science. The argument turns on the counterfactual-dependence framework of explanation and understanding, which is illustrated and evidenced with reference to different explanations of the rainbow.
But the scanty wisdom of man, on entering into an affair which looks well at first, cannot discern the poison that is hidden in it, as I have said above of hectic fevers. Therefore, if he who rules a principality cannot recognize evils until they are upon him, he is not truly wise; and this insight is given to few. …
Among the philosophical disciplines transmitted to the Arabic and
Islamic world from the Greeks, metaphysics was of paramount
importance, as its pivotal role in the overall history of the
transmission of Greek thought into Arabic makes evident. The
beginnings of Arabic philosophy coincide with the production of the
first extensive translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics,
within the circle of translators associated with the founder of Arabic
philosophy, al-Kindī. The so-called “early” or
“classical” phase of falsafa ends with the
largest commentary on the Metaphysics available in Western
philosophy, by Ibn Rushd (Averroes).
Each thing is fundamental. Not only is no thing any more or less real than any other, but no thing is prior to another in any robust ontological sense. Thus, no thing can explain the very existence of another, nor account for how another is what it is. I reach this surprising conclusion by undermining two important positions in contemporary metaphysics: hylomorphism and hierarchical views employing so-called building relations, such as grounding. The paper has three main parts. First, I observe hylomorphism is alleged by its proponents to solve various philosophical problems. However, I demonstrate, in light of a compelling account of explanation, that these problems are actually demands to explain what cannot be but inexplicable. Second, I show how my argument against hylomorphism illuminates an account of the essence of a thing, thereby providing insight into what it is to exist. This indicates what a thing, in the most general sense, must be and a correlative account of the structure in reality. Third, I argue that this account of structure is incompatible not only with hylomorphism, but also with any hierarchical view of reality. Although hylomorphism and the latter views are quite different, representing distinct philosophical traditions, I maintain they share untenable accounts of structure and fundamentality and so should be rejected on the same grounds.
We provide a novel perspective on “regularity” as a property of representations of the Weyl algebra. We first critique a proposal by Halvorson [2004, “Complementarity of representations in quantum mechanics”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35(1), pp. 45–56], who argues that the non-regular “position” and “momentum” representations of the Weyl algebra demonstrate that a quantum mechanical particle can have definite values for position or momentum, contrary to a widespread view. We show that there are obstacles to such an intepretation of non-regular representations. In Part II, we propose a justification for focusing on regular representations, pace Halvorson, by drawing on algebraic methods.
But if we consider, where Monies are raised according to wealth, there they who have made equall gain, have not equall possessions, because that one preserves what he hath got by frugality, another wastes it by luxury, and therefore equally rejoycing in the benefit of Peace, they doe not equally sustaine the Burthens of the Commonweal [civitatis]: and on the other side, where the goods themselves are taxt, there every man, while he spends his private goods, in the very act of consuming them he undiscernably payes [imperceptibiliter persolvit] part due to the Commonweal, according to, not what he hath, but what by the benefit of the Realm he hath had. …
My thesis in this paper is a fairly simple one, and one, I believe, that is fairly simple to support on rational grounds – although I imagine it will prove controversial among some dedicated to a strictly ‘scientific’ understanding of life. But the thesis can be stated simply enough: A materialist interpretation of evolutionary theory cannot account for the subjective dimension of life, and, in particular, cannot account for that aspect of life of most concern to religion, its spiritual aspirations. Indeed, not only can it not account for desire of a spiritual sort, it cannot account for desire at all, not even the desire for physical survival, which it presupposes.
There exists a common view that for theories related by a ‘duality’, dual models typically may be taken ab initio to represent the same physical state of affairs, i.e. to correspond to the same possible world. We question this view, by drawing a parallel with the distinction between ‘interpretational’ and ‘motivational’ approaches to symmetries.
Climate science investigates the structure and dynamics of
earth’s climate system. It seeks to understand how global,
regional and local climates are maintained as well as the processes by
which they change over time. In doing so, it employs observations and
theory from a variety of domains, including meteorology, oceanography,
physics, chemistry and more. These resources also inform the
development of computer models of the climate system, which are a
mainstay of climate research today. This entry provides an overview of
some of the core concepts and practices of contemporary climate
science as well as philosophical work that engages with them.
The Minim friar Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) played a central role
in French intellectual life of the first half of the seventeenth
century. At a time when scientific periodicals were still sorely
lacking, he was rightly referred to as “The Secretary of Learned
Europe” (“le secrétaire de l’Europe
savante”, Hauréau 1877, p. 177) thanks to his
sprawling correspondence, which extended his network across the whole
of learned Europe, to his role as translator, editor, disseminator of
scientific information, and to his ability to generate research and
discoveries by creating “fine questions” (de belles
questions, Pascal 1658, p. 1) addressed to the foremost
scholars of the time.
Although it was only in the first half of the twentieth century
that the term ‘personalism’ became known as a designation
of philosophical schools and systems, personalist thought had
developed throughout the nineteenth century as a reaction to perceived
depersonalizing elements in Enlightenment rationalism, pantheism,
Hegelian absolute idealism, individualism as well as collectivism in
politics, and materialist, psychological, and evolutionary
determinism. In its various strains, personalism always underscores
the centrality of the person as the primary locus of investigation for
philosophical, theological, and humanistic studies.
One of the major themes of the history of science is the replacement of substance assumptions about the phenomena of interest with process models. Thus, phlogiston has been replaced by combustion, caloric by random thermal motion, and vital fluid by far-from-equilibrium self-reproducing organizations of process. The most significant exceptions to this historical pattern are found in studies of the mind. Here, substance assumptions are still ubiquitous, ranging from models of representation to those of emotions to personality and psychopathology. Substance assumptions do pernicious damage to our ability to understand such phenomena. In this discussion, I will focus on the problem of representation.
A novel solution to the knowability paradox is proposed based on Kant’s transcendental epistemology. The ‘paradox’ refers to a simple argument from the moderate claim that all truths are knowable to the extreme claim that all truths are known. It is significant because anti-realists have wanted to maintain knowability but reject omniscience. The core of the proposed solution is to concede realism about epistemic statements while maintaining anti-realism about non-epistemic statements. Transcendental epistemology supports such a view by providing for a sharp distinction between how we come to understand and apply epistemic versus non-epistemic concepts, the former through our capacity for a special kind of reflective self-knowledge Kant calls ‘transcendental apperception’. The proposal is a version of restriction strategy: it solves the paradox by restricting the anti-realist’s knowability principle. Restriction strategies have been a common response to the paradox but previous versions face serious difficulties: either they result in a knowability principle too weak to do the work anti-realists want it to, or they succumb to modified forms of the paradox, or they are ad hoc. It is argued that restricting knowability to non-epistemic statements by conceding realism about epistemic statements avoids all versions of the paradox, leaves enough for the anti-realist attack on classical logic, and, with the help of transcendental epistemology, is principled in a way that remains compatible with a thoroughly anti-realist outlook.
Hobbes made a distinctive contribution to the discussion of freedom on two fronts. He persuaded later, if not immediate, successors that it is only the exercise of a power of interference that reduces people’s freedom, not its (unexercised) existence – not even its existence in an arbitrary, unchecked form. Equally, he persuaded them that the exercise of a power of interference always reduces freedom in the same way, whether it occurs in a republican democracy, purportedly on a ‘non-arbitrary’ basis, or under a dictatorial, arbitrary regime. But the basis on which Hobbes maintained those two propositions was very different from any that successors would have found plausible. This article explores the idiosyncratic principles that led Hobbes to develop his influential point of view.
In the contextualist methodology that Quentin Skinner has championed throughout his career, ‘‘the history of thought should be viewed not as a series of attempts to answer a canonical set of questions, but as a sequence of episodes in which the questions as well as the answers have frequently changed.’’ Bringing this methodology to bear on the work of a single thinker, Skinner argues in his recent book that in a short span of just over ten years Hobbes, stung by the work of radical and parliamentary writers, went through just such a radical shift in his thinking about the meaning of political liberty. While describing Hobbes as concerned throughout that period with the single ‘‘question of human liberty,’’ he maintains that his 1651 ‘‘analysis of liberty in Leviathan represented not a revision but a repudiation of what he had earlier argued’’ in his 1640 manuscript, The Elements of Law, and indeed his two editions of De Cive in the mid 1640s. In upholding this thesis he describes my claim that there is ‘‘no evidence of any significant change’’ in Hobbes’s theory between those works as an example of the sort of position he rejects.
I approach these questions in the step-by-step, unnuanced manner of the philosopher. In the first section, I characterise the republican tradition in its broad historical sweep, drawing on an earlier book on republicanism, and then, in the second section, I give an account of what the system of culture should be taken to encompass. With those matters fixed, I go on in the third section to look at the role and significance of culture in the republican way of thinking. And finally, in the fourth section, I turn to the policy lessons for the state that this picture of the significance of culture would support. These lessons must be seen as important, I think, by anyone who embraces a republican philosophy, and they stand in conflict with the positions that might attract adherents of opposed philosophies, such as libertarianism and communitarianism.
The background thesis is that an implicit ontology of the people and the relation between the people and the state often shapes how we think in normative terms about politics. This article attempts to defend that thesis in relation to Rawls. The argument is that the rejection of an image of the people as a group agent connects with his objection to utilitarianism and the rejection of an image of the people as a mere aggregate connects with his objection to libertarianism. Rawls, it is argued, holds by an in-between picture and it is this that explains many of his most distinctive commitments.
Yesterday, I suggested that in rejecting both Descartes's vortex theory and Newton's cosmology (including the law of universal gravitation), Huygens landed with an apparent tension. One the one hand, Huygens claims that solar systems are causally isolated from each other. …
Isaac ben Solomon Israeli (ca. 855–955 CE), not to be confused with
Isaac Israeli the Younger (an astronomer of Spain, d. 1322 CE), served
as physician to the founder of the Fatimid Dynasty in North Africa and
wrote several philosophical and medical treatises in Arabic which were
subsequently translated and widely read in Latin and Hebrew. Israeli
was one of the earliest medieval Jewish Neoplatonist writers, though
not as original in his thinking as later Jewish philosophers such as
Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Avicebron), Moses Maimonides and Gersonides. His
work reflected and encapsulated the prevailing philosophical paradigm,
namely, Aristotelian thought read through a Neoplatonist
Roger Swyneshed, in his treatise on insolubles (logical paradoxes), dating from the early 1330s, drew three notorious corollaries of his solution. The third states that there is a contradictory pair of propositions both of which are false. This appears to contradict the Rule of Contradictory Pairs, which requires that in every such pair, one must be true and the other false. Looking back at Aristotle’s treatise De Interpretatione, we find that Aristotle himself, immediately after defining the notion of a contradictory pair, gave counterexamples to the rule. Thus Swyneshed’s solution to the logical paradoxes is not contrary to Aristotle’s teaching, as many of Swyneshed’s contemporaries claimed. Dialetheism, the contemporary claim that some propositions are both true and false, is wedded to the Rule, and in consequence divorces denial from the assertion of the contradictory negation.
I am of opinion then that every Sun is surrounded with a Whirl-pool or Vortex of Matter in a very swift Motion; tho not in the least like Cartes’s either in their bulk, or manner of Motion. For Cartes makes his so large, as everyone of them to touch all the others round them, in a flat Surface, just as you have seen the Bladders that Boys blow up in Soap-suds do: and would have the whole Vortex to move round the same way. …